Initially, I was gently nudged into online dating by a friend of mine who had been on dating apps for over a year, and seen great success (many, many, many dates - enough to fill a spreadsheet - as well as life lessons and some amusing cocktail anecdotes).
“I think you might really like app dating,” she said, over the phone. “It’s an easy way to meet people, and it would get your mind off of Photographer Boy.” (Photographer Boy was the last guy I had casually dated, and things with him had only recently ended spectacularly badly.)
I agreed, but for someone who considers themselves to be a good writer, I remember feeling disproportionately intimidated by the 300 characters of blank bio space and the six spaces for photos that appeared when I opened Bumble.
I’ve learned a thing or two since then, both by creating my own dating profiles and by creating them for friends, family members, strangers at coffee shops, and clients.
What follows below is what I’ve learned from all of this profile-making - what works, what doesn’t work, and what has gotten my clients results.
These tips are also where I start when a client pays me to make over their dating profile - no matter who they are, or what site they’re on, this is the mental checklist I run their profile through to start writing.
So. With all of that said. If you’re where I was when I started with app dating - Googling articles, blog posts, listicles - anything - to give you tips on how to write a dating profile - I wrote this post for you.
Even if you’ve dated online for a while, and you already have a profile, these tips can hopefully help you to take your existing profile from good to great.
Without further ado, I present to you - my top tips for getting more right swipes and better matches from your online dating profile.
1. Look at the camera and SMILE in your profile photo.
Or, alternatively, look in the general direction of the camera, and reasonably pleasant. Research has shown that people who smile in their dating profile photos have a 14% higher success rate than those who do not, and also that people who look towards the camera in their profile photos have a 20% higher success rate than those who do not. This makes sense, right? Profile photos are meant to generally approximate real life, and in real life, you would look towards the person you’re meeting and (probably) smile at them. Or at least look approachable. So. In your dating profile, remember: for your first impression photo, smile, and look towards the camera!
2. Have a bio.
Tinder gives you 500 characters; Bumble gives you 300 - use them! Not having a bio on your dating profile is basically deciding to give up space on your profile that you could otherwise use to convince someone to swipe right. Moreover, it’s the best way to showcase your personality on your profile, which is a big plus. People are going to be dating you, and you have a personality. Show people a little snippet of who you are by writing something.
Lastly, deciding not to have a bio makes your profile look fake or like a bot, which is the opposite of approachable. Use the space in your bio to at least write a short blurb.
3. Have a photo of you interacting with another living being.
Having only selfies or photos of you alone makes you look like you don’t have friends, which in turn makes you look less friendly and fun to be around. Even if you just moved to a new location and actually don't have friends, or you’re introverted or wish you had a bigger social circle - it’s always going to benefit you to have one or two photos with you and someone else on your dating profile. Putting photos of you with friends or a pet (dogs are especially great photo companions!) makes you look fun and friendly, which in turn means that others will be able to imagine themselves having fun with you.
4. Talk about YOU in your bio!
People are reading your profile to learn about you, so show them who you are. By using your bio space to talk only about who you want to date, you’re missing out on valuable real estate to show someone who you are. Moreover, those looking for anything beyond a casual hookup are scanning your profile for clues that the two of you would get along. Give them the information they need to decide if you’re a match enough to get to know each other further.
Moreover, being authentic and unique on your profile means that anyone swiping on you has plenty of information to ask you about if you match. If you're someone who tends to not put much information about themselves up-front in their profile, and most of the initial messages you get are boring and cliché, I might suggest changing up your profile to say more about yourself.
Realistically, how can you expect effort and creativity from your matches unless you put effort and creativity into your profile?
5. Be a LITTLE bit vulnerable.
I recommend that all of my clients put one "lightly vulnerable fun fact" on their profile. Being a little bit vulnerable (without sharing your darkest secrets with the internet world) is how you connect with other human beings. It shows them that you’re a real person and looking to form authentic connections. For anyone looking for more authenticity in their dating connections, this is how it’s done - by setting the tone early and leading by example.
Also, don't worry about people being turned off by something you share - if someone is turned off by a fact that’s true about you, they probably aren’t a good match, anyway. And especially if your dating goal is to connect with people who are aligned with you on a deep level, weeding out bad matches is equally as important for you as attracting good ones.
6. Keep your profile language focused on what you DO want, not on what you DON’T want.
This goes along with my point above, but bears further mentioning - when writing your dating profile, try to keep your language positive. Writing a long list of “don’t message me if’s” makes you seem unnecessarily negative, and doesn’t actually tend to keep away people you aren’t interested in, who probably aren’t reading your profile that closely, anyway. The best way to filter people in (and out!) is to lead with who you are, and invite like-minded others to connect with you.
7. Spell and grammar check!
This may go without saying, but you’d be surprised how many clients complain to me that the profiles they come across look like their owners didn’t give them their best effort. Proofread your profile before putting it out there, and if you aren’t sure about something, ask a friend to help.
8. Get a friend (or, better yet, a professional - wink, wink!) to review your profile.
This person doesn’t have to be a dating coach, but bonus points if they are, and extra bonus points if they’re me! (Duh.) But actually, having an objective someone else, preferably of the gender you’re hoping to date, review your profile, especially your photos, before you post it can be a huge help. It’s especially helpful to choose someone of the gender you’ll be dating - guys will give their guy friends different feedback on their photos than a female friend or sister would, and girls will give their girlfriends different feedback than a brother or friend’s boyfriend.
That said, if this elected third-party looks through your photos and hates all of them, it may be worth considering getting some new photos, and even, if you’re able, hiring a photographer. Your photos don’t need to be professional-quality (although great photos never hurt!), but they should be flattering and not dark or blurry.
While there’s a bit more to crafting a top-notch profile that I’ve been able to cover here, the tips above should give you a solid road map of where to begin when creating or editing your online dating profile. Over time, as you drive-test your profile, you can tweak aspects that don’t work, add new profile questions, and experiment with quirky personal facts and different types of photos.
Of course, if you find that you want someone to write your bio with you, give you advice on photo selection, or you just want a professional eye to look everything over and reassure you that it’s good (which we all need from time to time) - you know where to find me!